While reading this week’s Torah portion again this morning, a little word caught my eye!! The revelation, however, was not so little!
Yeshua, speaking of the latter days, in Matthew 24, says,
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Pay very special attention to the bold and underlined words above as we look at a few verses in Deuteronomy 30,
30 “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you cause them to come to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him [lit. ‘listen to His voice] with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the sky, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you [lit. ‘take you’] back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
Fireworks went off in my head!! Another great example of unraveling perplexing ‘new Testament’ verses with the foundational truths of the Torah!
Before pointing out some very significant qualifiers in the Deuteronomy passage, I want to share a few things I found doing a little digging on ‘gather,’ from the Hebrew קבץ /qabats.
Consider Zechariah 10,
6 “I will strengthen the house of Judah,
And I will save the house of Joseph,
And I will bring them back,
Because I have had compassion on them;
And they will be as though I had not rejected them,
For I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.
7 “Ephraim will be like a mighty man,
And their heart will be glad as if from wine;
Indeed, their children will see it and be glad,
Their heart will rejoice in the Lord.
8 “I will whistle for them to gather them together,
For I have redeemed them;
And they will be as numerous as they were before.
9 “When I scatter them among the peoples,
They will remember Me in far countries,
And they with their children will live and come back.
10 “I will bring them back from the land of Egypt
And gather them from Assyria;
And I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon
Until no room can be found for them.
Judah gets strengthened (because they are already in the Land) and Joseph gets saved (because they are still among the nations / in Egypt-Babylon). Notice, just like the Deuteronomy passage, they ‘remember Me in far countries’ and then return. So many return that they fill up Gilead and Lebanon (and Jordan, and… all the territory promised to Abraham).
It is interesting to note that in Matthew 13:24-30, Yeshua refers to this gathering as collecting wheat. The rule of first mention finds Joseph (a picture of Messiah), in Egypt, gathering קבץ wheat into the barns before the time of Jacob’s trouble!! See Genesis 41:35ff.
There are many other relevant examples of ‘qabats’/ gathering as related to the assembling from the nations of God’s people. See these verses and their surrounding context: Isaiah 56:8; 45:20; 60:7 and Ezekiel 28:25 to name a few.
Understanding the connection between Matthew 24 and the gathering of the the chosen ones that is promised in Deuteronomy 30:3 & 4, we need to consider what the traits of those gathered are according to Deuteronomy 30. Here are a few snippets from that chapter,
- you return to the Lord your God and obey Him [lit. ‘listen to His voice] with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore you
- v.8… you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today.
- v.9-10…Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law (Torah), if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.
- v. 14 …observe it (Torah)…
- v.16…I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live
- v. 19… choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days,
Clearly, those who are gathered are expected to do what their fathers did not…. obey and keep! And, Deuteronomy says that the keeping begins in the nations before they are gathered!!
As an aside:
I was speaking a week or two ago to my good friend, Al McCarn, of The Barking Fox blog and author of Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell. Part of our discussion was dealing with the timing of the return oft prophesied in Scripture. Honestly, some Scriptures point to post tribulation, as the Matthew 24 passage does, but others seem to indicate a possible return of some before, or at the time of the Messiah’s coming.
Isaiah 66:18ff. After the judgment, some of the survivors in Israel will be sent to the nations and ‘they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations….’ Matthew 24 says the ones sent are ‘angels,’ but the Isaiah passage seems to indicate they are human. So, I related to Al that I had to look up the word behind ‘angels’ in Matthew 24 and see if there were variants that fit this other prophecy better. And, guess what? The Greek ἄγγελος
aggelos, can mean a human messenger.
Maybe, the ones doing the gathering are not angels in the sense that we have been taught, but rather are human survivors who were in the Land to witness all that transpired?
Hmmm…. (If there is an early return, I sure hope to be part of it!! I want to see with my own eyes, the coming of the King!)
Another quick thought, since we are on the topic, this gathering happens on Yom Teruah/Rosh Hashana, the Day of Trumpets. Tomorrow evening, by some calendars, is the beginning of Yom Teruah! We watch with expectation!